Boston’s previously successful road trip (3-1) came to a screeching halt on Saturday night as it fell, 6-2, to Vancouver at Rogers Arena. The Bruins (22-9-2) saw their four-game win streak snapped while the Canucks (20-10-5) extended their win streak to seven games. It got so bad that Tuukka Rask was pulled for the first time all season after allowing four goals. Reilly Smith was the only positive aspect for the B’s as he tallied both of their goals.
The Bruins actually dodged another injury bullet since Jarome Iginla dislocated a finger in a first period bout with Ryan Kesle,r yet he was on the ice to start the second period for Boston.
Vancouver’s first goal was extremely fluky: Jannik Hansen shot the puck from center ice and it dipped like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball. Smith tied it with a breakaway and backhander past Roberto Luongo (38 saves). Canucks head coach John Tortarella called a timeout and screamed at his team. Vancouver scored twice in the second as a result to take a 3-1 lead, then added three more to start the third period. The last two goals for the Canucks came on the power play and were shorthanded.
Smith showed at least some pride by getting one more goal. Brad Marchand looked silly as he kissed his ring finger in the second period then pretended to raise the cup while his team was down, 4-1, in the third. It wasn’t on the same level as the disaster in Detroit the night before Thanksgiving but this was another rare ugly loss for the Bruins. Their injuries from week-long trip, plus a flu outbreak, seemed to catch up with them.
The good news is that Boston’s next nine games are all against non-playoff teams, beginning on Tuesday (7, NESN) at TD Garden vs. Calgary (13-15-4).
What they'll be saying: The biggest news for the Bruins today came this afternoon when it was announced that Shawn Thornton will be suspended for 15 games. It is the longest regular season suspension handed out in Brendan Shanahan’s tenure as VP of Player Safety. Thornton, his agent and the club sound like they might appeal, but honestly, what’s the point? He did a terrible thing that left Brooks Orpik on IR with a concussion, so now he has to live with it.
Mark it down on your calendar: Feb. 4. That is the return matchup between the Bruins and Canucks. Hopefully that one lives up to expectations a little more than tonight did. It is still hard to bet on Luongo and the Sedins in the playoffs but Tortorella has definitely instilled some toughness and a defensive mindset that simply didn’t exist with Alain Vigneault in charge. The Bruins are still in good shape: first place in the Atlantic Division (three points ahead of Montreal) and only one point behind Pittsburgh with one game in hand. Six of Boston’s next nine games are at TD Garden where they are 13-3-2. Finally, Iginla’s toughness will never be questioned but trying to get into another fight in the third period was pretty dumb. Thankfully the referees pulled him and Dan Hamhuis apart before he potentially did more damage to that mangled digit.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate